“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember.” ~ William Shakespeare, from Hamlet (IV,v), spoken by Ophelia

Happy 450th Birthday to the Bard!


World Book Day or World Book and Copyright Day (also known as International Day of the Book or World Book Days) is a yearly event on 23 April, organized by UNESCO to promote reading, publishing and copyright. It is hoped that World Book and Copyright Day will increase people’s understanding of copyright laws and other measures to protect intellectual copyright.

In the United Kingdom, the day is instead recognised on the first Thursday in March.

World Book Day was celebrated for the first time on 23 April 1995. The date is symbolic for world literature. Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died on 23 April 1616.

23 April has also been taken as Shakespeare’s birthday (he was baptised on 26 April 1564, and his actual date of birth is unknown). This year, 2014, marks William Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday.

The Top 12 Shakespeare Quotes

  1. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves. (Julius Caesar)
  2. To be, or not to be: that is the question. (Hamlet)
  3. The course of true love never did run smooth. (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
  4. If I lose mine honour, I lose myself. (Antony and Cleopatra)
  5. All the world ‘s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts. (As You Like It)
  6. Now is the winter of our discontent. (Richard III)
  7. Brevity is the soul of wit. (Hamlet)
  8. Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ‘em. (Twelfth Night)
  9. Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.  (All’s Well That Ends)
  10. Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow. (Romeo and Juliet)
  11. But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve. (Othello)
  12. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. (Hamlet)

by Amanda Patterson

                   

One of my favorite scenes, from Henry V (IV,iii) from one of my all-time favorite versions, starring Kenneth Branagh:

Enter the KING

WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!

KING. What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian.’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.’
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

                   

Go here for a lovely list of Shakespeare’s quotes

“Welcome to America, the land of blue jeans, rock and roll, and sporadic meaningless mass murder.” ~ Ben DreyFuss, Mother Jones

 

| Sun Apr. 20, 2014 2:31 PM PDT

On April 20, 1999, two teenagers walked into a suburban high school outside of Denver and shot 13 people to death. The massacre at Columbine was not the first mass shooting in America. It was not the first mass shooting at an American school. Indeed, Peter Jennings began the news that night, “The reaction of so many people today was ‘Oh no, not again.’” But Columbine was different. It became a national trauma in a way the others hadn’t. Yes, it was the deadliest American school shooting on record at the time—though it is no longer—but what really amplified its significance was the fact it was the first mass shooting that played out in real time on television. The shootings began at 11:19 a.m. By noon, local television stations had broken into regular programming with uninterrupted media coverage. Millions of people across the country turned on CNN and watched the story develop.

Here’s how America watched the chaos of Columbine: There were reports of a shooting and it was at a school and the body count began going up and witnesses said they were two shooters with shotguns and rifles and pistols and there had been an explosion across town and it had been a diversion maybe and pipe bombs, something about pipe bombs, and the body count kept rising, and booby traps, and then Clinton gave a speech and then the shooters were in a mafia that wore trench coats and maybe there were more than two and then, no, there were only two and they were dead and the bomb squad finished the initial sweep of the building at 4:45 p.m. and it was over, but not really because then there was the CCTV footage, the witness interviews, the search for motive, they had been bowling, they had been bullied, they had said something about Hitler and they listened to Marilyn Manson and they wanted to one up Timothy McVeigh and What Does It All Mean?

After Columbine there was a general sense that something had to be done. That kids getting killed at school was a thing we weren’t going to be okay with. “Never again,” as they say.

It wasn’t some fanciful impossibility. The British did it after Dunblane. And so we did that. Everyone got together and passed sweeping gun control legislation and there was never another mass shooting in America.

Except not really. Because the “never again” response—though shared by many—was not shared by all.

We seem to have accepted that the occasional mass murder is the cost of America.

On May 1, Charlton Heston came to Denver and made a much-discussed speech where he said, “We have work to do, hearts to heal, evil to defeat, and a country to unite. We may have differences, yes, and we will again suffer tragedy almost beyond description. But when the sun sets on Denver tonight, and forever more, let it always set on we the people, secure in our land of the free and the home of the brave.” Say what you will about that speech, but as far as predictions go it was spot on. It’s a fait accompli. There were more shootings. We mourned and then did nothing because we seem to have accepted that occasional mass murder is the cost of America.

Both responses, “never again” and “don’t bother trying,” offer statements about the USA. The former says “America is the greatest country on Earth. We went to the moon. Surely, we can stop kids from getting shot to death at school! If the Brits can do it, so can we. ” The latter says, “No, we can’t. We’re America. The greatest country on Earth and the cost of the liberty that makes us so is that our kids may get shot to death at school.”

Every time there is another mass shooting and nothing happens it becomes a little easier to believe that the “don’t bother” crowd is right.

Nothing changed after 13 people were killed at Columbine, or 33 at Virginia Tech, or 26 at Sandy Hook. Each of those tragedies came with the same breaking-news urgency as Columbine, but none generated the same sense of expected action because fewer and fewer people actually believed things could change. The last 15 years have been a lesson in how “never again” can be cowed into “I need a drink.”

And that’s insane.

Fifteen years after Columbine rattled America to its core, people still get shot while they’re at school. People get shot while they’re at work. People get shot eating. People get shot drinking. People get shot watching movies, shopping, driving, swimming, skipping, and playing baseball. It’s 2014 and in America people get shot doing basically any goddamn thing you can think of.

They don’t have to.

 

Ben Dreyfuss

Ben Dreyfuss is the engagement editor at Mother Jones.

 

“All I ever did to that apartment was hang fifty yards of yellow theatrical silk across the bedroom windows, because I had some idea that the gold light would make me feel better, but I did not bother to weight the curtains correctly and all that summer the long panels of transparent golden silk would blow out the windows and get tangled and drenched in afternoon thunderstorms. That was the year, my twenty-eight, when I was discovering that not all of the promises would be kept, that some things are in fact irrevocable and that it had counted after all, every evasion and ever procrastination, every word, all of it.” ~ Joan Didion, from “Goodbye to All That”

Kurt Schwitters Untitled paren Tenartional 1942

Untitled (1942)
by Kurt Schwitters

                   

Two for Tuesday: The Relentless Passing of Time

Louis-Georges-Eleonor Figure in the Moonlight 1887 gouache on paper

“Figure in the Moonlight” (1887, gouache on paper)
by Louis-Georges-Eleonor

If You Knew

What if you knew you”d be the last
to touch someone?
If you were taking tickets, for example,
at the theater, tearing them,
giving back the ragged stubs,
you might take care to touch that palm,
brush your fingertips
along the life line”s crease.

When a man pulls his wheeled suitcase
too slowly through the airport, when
the car in front of me doesn’t signal,
when the clerk at the pharmacy
won’t say Thank you, I don”t remember
they’re going to die.

A friend told me she’d been with her aunt.
They”d just had lunch and the waiter,
a young gay man with plum black eyes,
joked as he served the coffee, kissed
her aunt”s powdered cheek when they left.
Then they walked a half a block and her aunt
dropped dead on the sidewalk.

How close does the dragon”s spume
have to come? How wide does the crack
in heaven have to split?
What would people look like
if we could see them as they are,
soaked in honey, stung and swollen,
reckless, pinned against time?

~ Ellen Bass

                   

Maurice Denis Residence with a Pond c1895

“Residence with a Pond” (c1895)
by Maurice Denis

String of Pearls

The pearls my mother gave me as a bride
rotted inside.
Well, not the pearls, but the string.
One day I was putting
them on, about thirty years on,
and they rattled onto the floor, one by one…
I’m still not sure I found them all.

As it happened, I kept a white seashell
on my vanity table. It could serve as a cup
where, after I’d scooped the lost pearls up,
I’d save them, a many-sister
haven in one oyster.
A female’s born with all her eggs,
unfolds her legs,

then does her dance, is lovely, is the past –
is old news as the last
crinkle-foil-wrapped sweet
in the grass of the Easter basket.
True? Who was I? Had I unfairly classed
myself as a has-been? In the cloister
of the ovary, when

released by an extra dose of estrogen,
my chances for love dwindled, one by one.
But am I done?

~ Mary Jo Salter

                    

Music by Nathan Barr, “Love Theme from True Blood”

“There is no sign of us where we have been.” ~ Elizabeth Jennings from “XIII. Last Reflections”, Sequence in Venice

“Sorrow is a vessel so deep
it can hold anything, even its own absence.”~ Eric Gamalinda, from “Fallen”

                   

April is National Poetry Month, and I read two books in one day yesterday, and then spent the next 12 hours with one of the worst eye migraines of my life . . .

All images by British realist painter Peter Coker (1926-2004). For more on Coker, go here.

                   

Nothing But Death

There are cemeteries that are lonely,
graves full of bones that do not make a sound,
the heart moving through a tunnel,
in it darkness, darkness, darkness,
like a shipwreck we die going into ourselves,
as though we were drowning inside our hearts,
as though we lived falling out of the skin into the soul.

And there are corpses,
feet made of cold and sticky clay,
death is inside the bones,
like a barking where there are no dogs,
coming out from bells somewhere, from graves somewhere,
growing in the damp air like tears of rain.

Sometimes I see alone
coffins under sail,
embarking with the pale dead, with women that have dead hair,
with bakers who are as white as angels,
and pensive young girls married to notary publics,
caskets sailing up the vertical river of the dead,
the river of dark purple,
moving upstream with sails filled out by the sound of death,
filled by the sound of death which is silence.

Death arrives among all that sound
like a shoe with no foot in it, like a suit with no man in it,
comes and knocks, using a ring with no stone in it, with no
finger in it,
comes and shouts with no mouth, with no tongue, with no
throat.
Nevertheless its steps can be heard
and its clothing makes a hushed sound, like a tree.

I’m not sure, I understand only a little, I can hardly see,
but it seems to me that its singing has the color of damp violets,
of violets that are at home in the earth,
because the face of death is green,
and the look death gives is green,
with the penetrating dampness of a violet leaf
and the somber color of embittered winter.

But death also goes through the world dressed as a broom,
lapping the floor, looking for dead bodies,
death is inside the broom,
the broom is the tongue of death looking for corpses,
it is the needle of death looking for thread.

Death is inside the folding cots:
it spends its life sleeping on the slow mattresses,
in the black blankets, and suddenly breathes out:
it blows out a mournful sound that swells the sheets,
and the beds go sailing toward a port
where death is waiting, dressed like an admiral.

~ Pablo Neruda, trans. Robert Bly

                   

Selections from Sequence in Venice

I. Introduction to a Landscape

Difficult not to see significance
In any landscape we are charged to watch,
Impossible not to set all seasons there
Fading like movements in a music one
To other, slow spring into the fast rage
of summer that takes possession of a place
Leaving the residue of time to autumn
Rather than just a used and ravished landscape.

And never long able to the see the place
As it must be somewhere itself beyond
Any regard of the ecstatic gazer
Or any human attitude of mind,
We blame all human happiness or grief
Upon a place, make figures of our feeling
And move them, as a story-teller might
Move modern heroes into ancient legends,
Into the solid and acceptable land.

For who can keep a grief as pure grief
Or hold a happiness against the heart?
Noble indeed to impute our worthiest thoughts
To a serene and splendid countryside
And therefore logical to let our loathing
See a storm looming in the summer light,
The hills about to learn of landslides and
The entire landscape be quite swallowed up
In a surrender—a type of our death.

XI. Journey from a Landscape

The colours stay within the mind, the light
Will not so easily permit itself
To be put out. In thoughts once more at home
A foreign fire will gleam, tints taken from
A sail, a wake of water widening out
Or subtle colours that make crumbling buildings
Renew themselves. These we have with us still.

And home again we learn how much we build
Abroad, put roots down in impermanence
Yet waver not from what time drags away
But are drawn too—like colours fading fast,
Like slow canals escaping to the sea.
Rest in this power to adapt, remember
The mind still turns like the huge globe and shows
Now Italy, now England and we are
The axis on which all our journeys move.

~ Elizabeth Jennings

                   

Music by Choir of Young Believers, “Hollow Talk” (such a wonderful video)

“Companions and discoverers, equal and free, | so deep in love we adventured and so far | that we became perhaps more than we are” ~ Hayden Carruth, from “6″

This just got to me in my heart . . . Corey comes home Wednesday . . .
cafune

(from word-stuck, which always has such lovely and unusual words)

                   

Morning Song

Here, I place
a blue glazed cup
where the wood
is slightly whitened.
Here, I lay down
two bright spoons,
our breakfast saucers, napkins
white and smooth as milk.

I am stirring at the sink,
I am stirring
the amount of dew
you can gather in two hands,
folding it into the fragile
quiet of the house.
Before the eggs,
before the coffee
heaving like a warm cat,
I step out to the feeder-
one foot, then the other,
alive on wet blades.
Air lifts my gown – I might fly –

This thistle seed I pour
is for the tiny birds.
This ritual,
for all things frail
and imperiled.
Wings surround me, frothing
the air. I am struck
by what becomes holy.

A woman
who lost her teenage child
to an illness without mercy,
said that at the end, her daughter
sat up in her hospital bed
and asked:
What should I do?
What should I do?

Into a white enamel bath
I lower four brown eggs.
You fill the door frame,
warm and rumpled, kiss
the crown of my head.
I know how the topmost leaves
of dusty trees
feel at the advent
of the monsoon rains.

I carry the woman with the lost child
in my pocket, where she murmurs
her love song without end:
Just this, each day:
Bear yourself up on small wings
to receive what is given.
Feed one another
with such tenderness,
it could almost be an answer.

~ Marcia F. Brown

                     

Music by Snow Patrol, “The Planets Bend Between Us”

 

If it’s Friday, it must mean leftovers . . .

And now, a public service message from our sponsor:

GOP blocks equal pay

To continue my love of meerkats (from Head Like an Orange tumblr):

Meerkat Hello

An oldie but a goodie (from George Takei’s tumblr):

Eye candy:

Poor Norwegian inmate Anders Breivik has such a hard life . . .

Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik has threatened to go on hunger strike for better video games to alleviate his “torture”-like living conditions, in a letter received by AFP Friday.

The right-wing extremist — who killed 77 people in a bomb and gun attack on July 22, 2011 — enclosed a typed list of 12 demands sent to prison authorities in November.

He described as “torture”-like his living conditions, in the high-security unit in Skien in southeast Norway where he serving out a 21-year sentence.

The demands include better conditions for his daily walk and the right to communicate more freely with the outside world, which he argues are in line with European rights legislation.

He also demanded that his PlayStation 2 games console be upgraded to a Playstation 3 “with access to more adult games that I get to choose myself”.

Held apart from other prisoners since 2011 for security reasons, Breivik argues that he has the right to a wider “selection of activities” than other inmates to compensate for his strict isolation.

Breivik also wants his standard weekly allowance of 300 kroner ($49, 36 euros) to be doubled, particularly to cover his postal charges from written correspondence.

Other demands include an end to daily physical searches, and access to a PC rather than to a “worthless typewriter with technology dating back to 1873″.

In the letter dated January 29 he said that since there has not been any real improvement in his prison conditions, a hunger strike would be “one of the only” options at his disposal.

“The hunger strike won’t end until the Minister of Justice (Anders) Anundsen and the head of the KDI (the Norwegian Correctional Services) stop treating me worse than an animal,” he said, adding that he would “soon” make public the starting date of his protest action.

On July 22, 2011, Breivik killed eight people in a bomb attack outside a government building in Oslo and later killed a further 69, most of them teenagers, when he opened fire at a Labour Youth camp on the island of Utoeya.

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” ~ Zora Neale Hurston, from Their Eyes Were Watching God

Ragnar Sandberg White Birds on Dark Background 1968 canvas

“White Birds on Dark Background (1968, canvas)
by Ragnar Sandberg

                   

April is National Poetry Month

Here is another lovely that I’ve been storing up in my drafts. Just love Darwish, and can completely relate to the desire to become a bird . . .

Mural

This is your name —
a woman said,
and vanished through the winding corridor
There I see heaven within reach.
The wing of a white dove carries me
towards another childhood. And I never dreamt
that I was dreaming. Everything is real.
I knew I was casting myself aside . . .
and flew. I shall become what I will
in the final sphere. And everything
is white . The sea suspended
upon a roof of white clouds. Nothingness is white
in the white heaven of the absolute.
I was and was not. In this eternity’s white regions,
I’m alone. I came before I was due;
no angel appeared to tell me:
“What did you do back there, in the world?”
I didn’t hear the pious call out,
nor the sinners moan for I’m alone
in the whiteness. I’m alone.
Nothing hurts at the door of doom.
Neither time nor emotion. I don’t feel
the lightness of things, or the weight
of apprehensions. I couldn’t find
anyone to ask: Where is my where now?
Where is the city of the dead,
and where am I? Here
in this no-here, in this no-time,
there’s no being, nor nothingness.
As if I had died once before,
I know this epiphany, and know
I’m on my way towards what I don’t know.
Perhaps I’m still alive somewhere else,
and know what I want.
One day I shall become what I want.
One day I shall become a thought,
taken to the wasteland
neither by the sword or the book
as if it were rain falling on a mountain
split by a burgeoning blade of grass,
where neither might will triumph,
nor justice the fugitive.
One day I shall become what I want.
One day I shall become a bird,
and wrest my being from my non-being.
The longer my wings will burn,
the closer I am to the truth, risen from the ashes.
I am the dialogue of dreamers; I’ve shunned my body and self
to finish my first journey towards meaning,
which burnt me, and disappeared.
I’m absence. I’m the heavenly renegade.
One day I shall become what I want.
One day I shall become a poet,
water obedient to my insight. My language a metaphor
for metaphor, so I will neither declaim nor point to a place;
place is my sin and subterfuge.
I’m from there. My here leaps
from my footsteps to my imagination . . .
I am he who I was or will be,
made and struck down
by the endless, expansive space.
One day I shall become what I want.
One day I shall become a vine;
let summer distil me even now,
and let the passers-by drink my wine,
illuminated by the chandeliers of this sugary place!
I am the message and the messenger,
I am the little addresses and the mail.
One day I shall become what I want.
This is your name —
a woman said,
and vanished in the corridor of her whiteness.
This is your name; memorise it well!
Do not argue about any of its letters,
ignore the tribal flags,
befriend your horizontal name,
experience it with the living
and the dead, and strive
to have it correctly spelt
in the company of strangers and carve it
into a rock inside a cave:
O my name, you will grow
as I grow, you will carry me
as I will carry you;
a stranger is brother to a stranger;
we shall take the female with a vowel
devoted to flutes.
O my name: where are we now?

Tell me: What is now? What is tomorrow? What’s time, what’s place, what’s old, what’s new?
One day we shall become what we want.

~ Mahmoud Darwish, trans. Sargon Boulus

Music by Agnes Obel, “Fuel to Fire”